Frank Bell's Gentle Solutions Revolution | Discover the Horse You Never Knew

Autumn Newsletter 2013

Autumn 2013

What IS it about fall? In one word MAGICAL. And I’m not alone. This is easily my favorite time to ride the uncrowded trails with magnificent colors and a crispness in the air. Here in Idaho it’s summer days and cold nights. I hope this finds you too enjoying fall and some of the finest riding of the year.

The cool mornings this time of year will have horses feeling pretty frisky. It is always a good idea to take that ‘fresh’ out of them prior to riding. My 7 Step Safety System is designed precisely for this exact situation. A few minutes of groundwork will pay dividends later on the trail. Warming up with the sixth exercise in my system, Ballet on the Ground, followed by Ballet in the Saddle gets the horse’s mind into the game because they have to concentrate where to place their feet. This wonderful warm-up exercise is being used by horse owners worldwide with great success and the culmination of my system.

A few important points as winter closes in:
• Deliberately put weight on hard-keepers this time of year before winter sets in.
• Dentistry is of utmost importance going into winter, especially older horses. Locate a competent vet or certified dentist.
• When the fall riding ends and winter sets in, a few months without shoes usually benefits horses’ feet. Are those shoes really necessary?
• If you do fall vaccines, give your horses a day or two off before hard work.
• Weather conditions can and will change dramatically so be sure your horses have access to cover. Horses can handle cold and wet, but not together. Providing some kind of shelter, even rudimentary is a good idea.
• Stallions and geldings develop “beans” that obstruct urination. Learn how to check for this condition or ask your vet to do so.
• Worming after a couple hard frosts is the preferred timing and actual parasite testing seems to be the wave of the future. More on this trend as it unfolds.


A movement quietly began back in the 70’s and 80’s that has now become known as the Natural Horsemanship Movement. While some bristle at the mention of these words, the outcome for horses and humans has been positive, hugely so. The information available today along with hands-on clinics and competent help, has exploded exponentially. Just about every type of training or healing modality is available and most likely taking place right in your backyard.
I’m often saddened by the naysayers who identify with only one clinician and put the rest down. The fact of the matter is that each of us have a different way of communicating our program; a different spin, if you will.
The evidence is in the horse. Is that clinician creating happy eager horses that enjoy learning? If not, take the good and leave the rest.

Tom Dorrance is generally considered the grandfather of the movement. I had the great fortune of meeting Tom on several occasions. An animal lover at the nascent stage of my equine experience, I was in the company of quite experienced horsemen and women who were completely in awe of this man, so I paid very close attention. Tom’s feeling for the horse and ability to read horses was. . . uncanny. His patience for the horse and the human alike were admirable to anyone switched on. The word KIND comes to mind.
Tom passed his knowledge onto Ray Hunt when one of Ray’s horses was giving him fits. Ray had the personality to take Tom’s message to the world. . . and did. Ray was a much harder man with far less empathy for the human, but a masterful horseman, beyond belief. Ray didn’t mind watching the human struggling in his quest to understand, often at the expense of the horse and the handler. Tears of frustration and failure at his clinics were predictable, where tears of joy abounded at Tom’s clinics, mine included.
But both men inspired the movement that today is engulfing horses on every continent, and all for the better. The old brutal ways are now being shunned, hidden by those that employee them, and often left behind as the younger, more enlightened generation take the reins.
I urge you to be part of the example of kindness and openness. Find the good and the merit of everyone that is out there doing their part. Then if appropriate, share your spin on this wonderful movement in a world that so needs the good, the positive.


Over the years I’ve challenged myself to simplify what others have made vague and complicated into some extremely simple concepts.

• The bottom of the V is thought. Every conscious action begins in our mind, right?
• The top is extreme pressure
• By always beginning at the bottom of the V and gradually moving up, the horse quickly understands what is being asked. Before long the horse is complying with little or no pressure. Reading your mind?

Three T’s
• Theory-If you don’t know why you’re doing something with a horse, you should not be doing it- period. Understand the WHY
• Technique- Understand and perfect the physical part of it
• Timing- Tune up your releases. Reward for thought. Be constantly improving your timing

Four C’s
• Control- Leads to
• Confidence- Leads to
• Competence- Leads to
• Improved Communication


Our video of the month club is a logical introduction to my Gentle Solutions approach. Beginning with the award winning DVD- Discover the Horse You Never Knew, my 7 Step Safety System is the logical first step and establishes a solid foundation for the remaining DVD/Book library that arrives conveniently each month for a full year. Absorb and apply the information of each instalment during the month at your own speed. By year’s end you won’t believe your relationship with your horses!
Jim Rea and I have conducted clinics at White Stallion Ranch for the past five years in the spring and fall. With 130 horses we’re able to find just the right fit for our students. From experienced horsemen and women to novices seeking to gain confidence and improve their horse handling skills, the results are amazing as our students emerge walking tall and quite pleased with themselves exuding heightened confidence. Our mornings are devoted to hands on with horses in the huge arena. Beginning with my safety system we progress through the week to more advanced maneuvers, games, and horse activities. Afternoons can be hot in that dry desert sun, so after lunch and a siesta we discuss the plethora of subjects that surround the equine. Nutrition, living conditions, saddle fitting, pain assessment and treatment, typical horse problems, etc. keep our gang busy until the afternoon cools. Then we move back outside to discuss and demonstrate such topics as problem foot handling, saddle fitting, barefoot trimming, proper trailer loading, and just how to check your horse’s teeth. About then the dinner bell rings and happy hour commences.
Most participate in team penning several times during the week and our breakfast ride on Saturday is topped off with an interpretive ride as the joys of the Sonoran Desert and interesting relationships of flora and fauna are well explained. The cuisine is fabulous and candlelight dinners on the patio, well downright enchanting. After dinner entertainment ranges from interpretive astronomy/star gazing to cowboy poetry and singing around the campfire to a creatures of the desert demonstration as Phil Gonzales enlightens and entertains with hands on to those so inclined to handle snakes, geckos, and one very perky chinchilla!
There does not exist a more well-run family dude ranch. White Stallion Ranch is truly a class act!
Don’t you deserve a week of pure indulgence delving into your passion?
Jim and I will be conducting our next week-long clinic at White Stallion Nov 10-17.

“I brought more back from Jim & Frank’s March clinic than I even realized. It was a life-changing experience in so many ways.” Paula Howe- New Mexico

From the Whole Gang at Dances With Horses- Wishing you and yours a great autumn of riding.

Remember- The Long Way is the Short Way AND
Your Success is our Success,

In Spirit,